2012 Winner: Professor Nicolay Kardashev
Acadamician Nicolay Kardashev, is the Director of the Russian Astro Space Center of the Lebedev Physical Institute in Moscow and his achievements have been many fold, even extending to ideas about the energy requirement of alien civilisations.
Over more than half a century, Professor Kardashev has made a series of innovative contributions that have greatly impacted the current state of radio astronomy. In 1958 he showed, contrary to previous calculations, that very highly excited (energised) atoms can give rise to radio emission at a series of particular frequencies in the centimetre band. With Kardashev's encouragement, two radio astronomy teams in Moscow and Leningrad were able detect the predicted atomic radio emission. His later research has focused on the evolution of radio galaxies, cosmology, and black hole physics.
He is also well known for his pioneering work on “super civilisations”, which has become the basis for observational SETI programs over the past half century. Kardashev described how civilisations might progress to first harness the power from their planet (Type I), their sun (Type II), and ultimately their galaxy (Type III) to power radio transmitters for interstellar communications. More than thirty years ago Kardashev proposed placing a radio telescope in space to form an interferometer system together with ground based radio telescopes (the use of two or more radio telescopes spaced widely apart improves the resolution, or 'sharpness' of the radio image). Political and technical conditions in the USSR resulted in very slow progress, which was further constrained by the fall of the USSR and the resulting difficult financial situation for Russian scientists. With the improved conditions of the past decade, Kardashev was able to raise the project to the highest priority in Russian space astrophysics. In July of this year Radio Astron was launched into an orbit extending up to 350,000 km from the Earth; this will give an unprecedented angular resolution as small as 10 microarcseconds. This will be by far the best resolution ever achieved in astronomy.
"His contributions to the theory of radio spectroscopy, radio galaxies, cosmology, and the search for extra terrestrial intelligence (SETI) have defined the progress in these fields for nearly half a century," said Ken Kellermann of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in the USA. David Jauncey of the CSIRO Division of Astronomy and Space Science in Australia commented that "Professor Kardashev's initiative with the launching of Radio Astron effectively opens a new window in high resolution astronomy.”Nicolay Kardashev has shown much the same disregard for conventional wisdom in theoretical astrophysics as Grote Reber did for experimental work. It is fitting that Kardashev's RadioAstron spacecraft carries a plaque provided by the Grote Reber Foundation in memory of Grote Reber, who would have celebrated his 100th birthday on 22 December 2011.
2011 Winner: Professor Jocelyn Bell Burnell (Courtesy of the University of Bath)
Professor Bell Burnell is best known for her part, while working towards her PhD as student Jocelyn Bell in 1967, in the discovery of the type of star known as a Pulsar. The discovery was made when she was using a radio telescope near Cambridge in England that had been built for her study of quasars by way of a phenomenon known as interplanetary scintillation. One day,Bellwas examining the output of the radio telescope when she noticed what she called some 'scruff' on the recordings, which was quite curious. By late November 1967, Bellfound that one of these pieces of 'scruff', when examined in more detail, was a series of radio pulses 1.3 seconds apart. Bellapproached Antony Hewish, her PhD supervisor, who initially felt that such a signal had to be artificial. Could it be simply some interference from Earth, or hadBelldiscovered the first signals from an alien civilisation? When the signals were confirmed by another observatory, local interference was clearly out of the question, and specialised measurements showed that the source was well outside our Solar System, but inside our Milky Way Galaxy.
When Bell spotted three more such emissions over the following two months, a seminar was organised to announce the discovery - although it was not of alien origin. Professor Fred Hoyle, who attended the seminar, stated right from the outset that he felt that they must come about as the result of a supernova explosion. It was becoming quite clear that they were natural phenomena, and were being recognised for what they really were. Pulsars are neutron stars which, as their name suggests, are made up of neutrons ¾ subatomic particles that have no charge. Neutron stars are very dense, meaning that there is a great deal of mass in a given volume of star. They spin very rapidly, and emit radiation that sweeps across space as they rotate, rather like a lighthouse emits a moving beam of light. These are the radio pulses that Bell observed. Hewish (Bell's supervisor) and Martin Ryle were awarded a Nobel Prize - Hewish for the pulsar discovery and Ryle for his work on a technique known as aperture synthesis. Bell's exclusion from the Nobel Prize has been quite controversial.
After completing her PhD in 1969, Bell went on to hold many different and important posts, including at the University of Southampton, working on gamma ray astronomy; University College London, where she was involved in x-ray astronomy; the Royal Observatory Edinburgh, working on infrared astronomy and running the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope in Hawaii; and the University of Bath, where she spent three years as Dean of Science. Professor Bell Burnell has recently completed a two-year term as President of the Institute of Physics (The UK and Ireland's main body of professional physicists). She has been presented with many awards, including the Michelson Medal by the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, the Oppenheimer Prize, the Tinsley Prize, and the Herschel Medal from the Royal Astronomical Society (UK). Among other major awards, she was made a CBE in 1999 and a DBE in 2007. Professor Bell Burnell will be presented with the Grote Reber Medal at the 2011 conference of the International Union of Radio Science (URSI) in Istanbul in August.2010 Winner: Dr Alan Rogers
Rogers is best known for his contributions over many decades to the techniques of very long baseline interferometry. More recently, he developed an innovative radio array which he successfully used to detect the 327 MHz line of interstellar deuterium, capping a 40-year quest for this important astrophysical atomic gas. Currently, Rogers is searching for the low frequency signature characteristic of the cosmic epoch of reionization using a digital spectrometer and a compact broadband dipole. He was also the leader of a program to apply radio astronomy techniques to locate emergency calls from mobile telephones.
'Alan Rogers not only changed the course of radio astronomy but, unlike most research scientists, he devoted considerable time and his unique skills to making life a bit safer for all of us', said Dr Ken Kellermann of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in the USA. Rogers is currently running a program to monitor atmospheric ozone using inexpensive consumer satellite TV low noise amplifiers and dishes. 'Alan Rogers has made fundamental contributions to the technology of radio astronomy ever since the earliest days of VLBI back in the 1960s", said Dr David Jauncey of the Australia Telescope National Facility in Australia. "His work on deuterium will significantly influence future astronomy for many years in the lead-up to the Square Kilometre Array', Jauncey added.
The 2010 Reber Medal will be presented to Alan Rogers in July 2010 in Hobart,Tasmania at the annual meeting of the Astronomical Society of Australia. The Reber Medal was established by the Trustees of the Grote Reber Foundation to honor the achievements of Grote Reber and is administered by the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery in Launceston,Tasmania.
2009 Winner: Dr Barry Clark
The 2009 Grote Reber Gold Medal for lifetime innovative contributions to radio astronomy has been awarded to Dr Barry Clark, who is an Emeritus Scientist at the U.S. National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) in Socorro, New Mexico. Clark is being honoured for his many pioneering developments to radio interferometry and synthesis imaging, over a career spanning more than half a century.
Barry Clark received his BS and PhD degrees in astronomy from Caltech and MIT in 1959 and 1964 respectively. His scientific career has extended over a full half a century starting with his research on the solar corona and the Galactic magnetic field while still an undergraduate student at Caltech. As a graduate student, Clark used the Caltech radio interferometer to study Galactic atomic hydrogen clouds, and suggested that interstellar hydrogen is found in two distinct temperature phases - thus leading to our current understanding of the multiple phases of the interstellar medium.
“Throughout his career he tackled only the difficult problems, leaving the easy ones for the rest of us”, said Dr Ken Kellermann of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in the US.
After receiving his PhD in 1964 Barry went to NRAO where he has remained until the present. Soon after he arrived at NRAO, he led the development of the world's first digital recording, software correlator Very Long Baseline Interferometer system and the subsequent enhancements to its sensitivity. He is probably best known, however, as the intellectual power behind the Very Large Array, the most powerful radio telescope system ever built. Later, he led the design of the Very Long Baseline Array, an array of ten radio telescopes spread across theUSwhich provided unprecedented angular resolution.
"Barry was a man of few words, but these seven were most certainly worth listening to!" said Dr David Jauncey of the Australia Telescope National Facility in Australia.
The 2009 Reber Medal will be presented to Barry Clark on August 5 at the triennial meeting of the International Astronomical Union in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
2008 Winner: Dr Sander Weinreb
The 2008 Grote Reber Medal for lifetime innovative contributions to radio astronomy has been awarded to Dr Sander Weinreb of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the California Institute of Technology. Dr Weinreb is being honoured for his pioneering developments of novel techniques and instrumentation over nearly half a century which have helped to define modern radio astronomy. 'Sandy Weinreb's contributions to radio astronomy technology are to be found throughout the radio observatories of the world and have set the foundation for so many amazing astronomical discoveries', said Dr Ken Kellermann of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in the USA.
Weinreb received his PhD degree in electrical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1963. While he was still a graduate student at MIT, he developed the world's first digital autocorrelation spectrometer which he then used to place a new upper limit to the Galactic deuterium-to-hydrogen ratio. With Barrett, Meeks, and Henry, he detected the hydroxyl molecule (OH); this was the first radio observation of an interstellar molecule. His autocorrelation spectrometer technique is now in use at virtually every major radio observatory throughout the world and has been crucial in the subsequent explosive growth of interstellar molecular spectroscopy.
In 1965 Weinreb went to the U.S. National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) in Green Bank, West Virginia where he became Head of the Electronics Division and later Assistant Director of NRAO. During his 23 years at NRAO, he pioneered the use of low-noise, cryogenically cooled solid state amplifiers which greatly enhanced the sensitivity of radio telescopes. He was the architect for the electronic systems design for the NRAO Very Large Array (VLA) in New Mexico and led the group which developed the novel receivers and the data transmission, acquisition, and monitor and control systems for the VLA.
Subsequently, Weinreb worked firstly at Lockheed Martin Laboratories and then at the University of Massachusetts where he developed various millimetre wave devices. He has also been a Visiting Professor at the University of Virginia. Most recently he has been a Faculty Associate at Caltech and a Principal Scientist at JPL where he has continued his work on low noise amplifier devices. He played a leading role in the electronics design for a new Deep Space Network (DSN) space tracking array, and he has been active in developing wideband feeds and front ends as well as investigating cost effective designs for modest size antennas, all of which will be important for the next generation of radio telescopes such the Square Kilometre Array (SKA). In addition he has been working with the Goldstone Apple Valley Radio Telescope (GAVRT) program to develop a 34-metre radio telescope at Goldstone for use with schools around the globe. 'For nearly five decades Sandy's innovative contributions to radio astronomy have paved the way for an amazing array of new and exciting discoveries about the nature and evolution of the Universe', said Dr David Jauncey of the Australia Telescope National Facility in Australia.
The 2008 Reber Medal will be presented to Dr Weinreb at the International Radio Science Union (URSI) radio astronomy commission meeting to be held on 13 August 2008 in Chicago.
2007 Winner: Professor Govind Swarup
The 2007 Grote Reber Medal for lifetime, innovative achievement in radio astronomy was awarded to Professor Govind Swarup of the National Centre of Radio Astrophysics at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) in India. Professor Swarup has had a long and productive career and remains as dynamic and energetic as ever.
"Professor Swarup continues to produce remarkably innovative concepts and designs for new radio telescopes that address some of the most important scientific problems in astronomy; at the moment he is working on designs for the next generation world radio telescope, the Square Kilometre Array," said Dr David Jauncey of the Australia Telescope National Facility in Australia.
India entered radio astronomy research with the construction of a large, steerable radio telescope at Ootacamund, in the Nilgiri Hills of South Indiawhich came to be known as "The Ooty Telescope". The telescope was designed and built by Professor Swarup. The innovative 530m x 30m Ooty radio telescope commenced operation in 1970.
The telescope was designed to use the technique of lunar occultations, in which the Moon passes in front of celestial objects, temporarily blocking them from view. This enabled the Ooty radio telescope to be used to determine the angular structure and precise position of many faint radio sources with a precision and angular resolution not achievable by any telescope at that time. One of the most successful programmes was the determination of the angular structure and precise position of many distant radio galaxies and quasars, and the application of these results to cosmology.
Professor Swarup's most significant contribution to radio astronomy has been through the major and innovative radio telescopes whose design and construction he has spearheaded in India. More recently, he has achieved considerable success and international recognition with the design and construction of the Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope (GMRT), near Pune, India, completed in 1997. The GMRT consists of 30 fully steerable parabolic dishes each of 45m diameter, spread over distances of up to 25 km. GMRT is one of the most challenging experimental programs in basic sciences undertaken by Indian scientists and engineers.
At the time of construction, Professor Swarup said "GMRT is a marriage of the world's two big radio telescopes: the Very Large Array in New Mexico, and Areciboin Puerto Rico¾ with the advantages of both". It is the largest telescope in the world for its wavelength range, and is used by astronomers from all over the world. The GMRT leads the world in the search for high-redshifted hydrogen and is actively involved in the search for the epoch of reionisation. As such it is an exciting test-bed for the future radio telescope called the Square Kilometre Array.
By designing and building such distinctive and innovative telescopes Professor Swarup has shown immense determination and farsightedness.
"He is always coming up with new ideas 10 or 20 years ahead of the rest of us," said Ken Kellermann of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in the USA.
The 2007 Grote Reber Medal was presented at a radio astronomy conference at Jodrell Bank, in the United Kingdom.
2006 Winner: Bernard Yarnton Mills
The Grote Reber Medal for 2006 was awarded to Bernard Yarnton Mills, Professor Emeritus at Sydney University. The Grote Reber Medal is awarded annually for innovative lifetime contributions to radio astronomy, and commemorates the pioneering work of Grote Reber, the first radio astronomer. The Medal is administered by the Queen Victoria Museum in Launceston, Tasmania, Australia in cooperation with the University of Tasmania, the Australia Telescope National Facility (ATNF) in Australia and the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) in the USA.
The award of the Grote Reber Medal is made possible through funds provided by the Grote Reber Foundation.
"It is very pleasing to see the groundbreaking work of the pioneering Australian radio astronomers being recognised at this level", said Dr David Jauncey of the Australia Telescope National Facility (ATNF).
Professor Mills was recognised for his numerous innovative and pioneering contributions to radio astronomy. These include the development of the cross-type telescope, subsequently known as the "Mills Cross", at Fleurs, west of Sydney, in 1953. With this instrument he and his colleagues undertook the first detailed radio survey of the southern sky, which had a major impact in establishing Australia as a leader in the then new science of radio astronomy. This first cross spawned further copies ¾ two in Australia, one in the USA, and a further one in Italy.
After moving to Sydney University from CSIRO in 1960, Mills undertook the construction of the 408 MHz one-mile Molonglo Cross. As well as surveying the radio sky, this telescope proved to be one of the most successful pulsar discovery telescopes. Since then the telescope has been upgraded to operate as a synthesis radio telescope operating at 843 MHz and has been most successful in sensitively surveying the southern sky, the Magellanic Clouds and the southern Galactic plane at this frequency.
Bernard Mills, after his retirement in 1985, continues to contemplate fundamental issues of astrophysics.
The 2006 Medal was presented at a ceremony in August 2006 during the International Astronomical Union General Assembly in Prague,Czech Republic.
2005 Winner: William C. Erickson
The 2005 Grote Reber Medal was awarded to William C. Erickson, Professor Emeritus at the University of Maryland and Honorary Research Associate at the University of Tasmania.
"We had many excellent nominations for the inaugural Grote Reber Medal, but Bill Erickson was the unanimous choice", said Dr David Jauncey of the Australia Telescope National Facility (ATNF) in Australia.
"I think that Grote Reber would be very pleased to see Bill Erickson, a long-time friend, as the inaugural Reber Medallist", Jauncey added.
Professor Erickson was recognised for his innovative contributions to radio astronomy, especially for his many novel techniques which have been the forerunner of the new generation of metre-wavelength radio telescopes. Currently he operates his own private radio observatory on Bruny Island in Tasmania. Earlier in his career Erickson studied the turbulence in the solar corona, investigated the nature of fast millisecond pulsars and made one of the first detections of very high Rydberg state atoms in the cold interstellar medium. More recently, he has been leading a group of his former students doing sub-arcminute-resolution imaging at meter wavelength.
Professor Erickson was educated at the University of Minnesota and received his PhD degree in 1956. Following appointments at St. Thomas College, Minnesota, the University of Minnesota, the Carnegie Institute and the Convair Corporation, Erickson spent a year in Leiden, in the Netherlands, as the leader of the group developing the Benelux Cross Radio Telescope. While at the University of Maryland from 1963 to 1988, Erickson developed a succession of innovative low frequency radio telescopes at Clark Lake in the Anza-Borrego Desert in California. Through his students he has left a legacy of skilled scientists who are developing the new generation of metre wavelength radio telescopes.
The 2005 Grote Reber Medal was presented at a ceremony in December 2005 during an international conference on radio astronomy at the University of Tasmania, Hobart, Tasmania.